Nikki Haley Resigns as US Ambassador To UN, Sparking Speculation About Her Presidential Ambitions
Nikki Haley, the 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations, announced on Tuesday that she would resign at the end of the year.
Haley, a child of immigrants from India, is a former Republican governor of South Carolina. During Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign she was one of his frequent and fiercest critics, yet within weeks after his election, he named her to the coveted UN job, a step that many view as an attempt to show his willingness to welcome Republicans who had been lukewarm towards him during the presidential campaign. It might also have been his attempt to show that in spite of difference, his administration will reward people who are capable.
Sitting beside Trump in the Oval Office, Haley said that her 18-month stint at the United Nations had been “an honor of a lifetime” and that she would stay on until the end of the year.
Prior to her appointment, Haley had little experience in international affairs but she quickly became a prominent voice for Trump's foreign policy. As ambassador, she was an outspoken and often forceful envoy.
Praising Hailey, Trump said that she played an important role in reestablishing international respect for the US.
“We are respected again – that I can tell you. Very much respected again. Even if you look at the votes in the United Nations – where we would normally get no votes we are getting very strong votes now.”
“She’s done a fantastic job and we’ve done a fantastic job together,” Trump said while praising her on Tuesday.
Haley said she hopes to ensure that “everything is in the right place” for when the next ambassador arrives.
Upon being pressed by reporters wanting to know her reasons for leaving, Haley denied that she was leaving for “personal reasons” and reiterated that she felt it was time to “step aside” and said, “the truth is I want to make sure this administration has the strongest person to fight.”
She is a rare senior Trump official who’s leaving with her reputation as a foreign-policy leader not just intact but enhanced. She stands in stark contrast to Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state whom Trump so thoroughly humiliated he grew emotional during his farewell address, and H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser who compromised his integrity for Trump and still got fired.
Trump said that he hoped Haley would return in a different role and that he would name her successor in the coming weeks.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew to a rally in Iowa, Trump said he was considering a list of five candidates to replace Haley, including Dina Powell, a former deputy national security adviser. Earlier he said that his daughter Ivanka “would be incredible,” but added that it “doesn’t mean I’d pick her.”
White House staff members were caught off guard by the announcement, which Haley and Trump had kept a secret for almost 6 months.
Haley, who has long been seen as a potential presidential candidate, said was not aspiring to run in 2020, as has been speculated. Instead, she said, she plans to campaign for Trump’s reelection.
People familiar with her said that after her stint at the UN she is most likely to work in the private sector and make some money.
Nearly eight years in the government — six years as governor of South Carolina in addition to her time at the United Nations has left with at least $1.5 million in debts, including a mortgage of more than $1 million, her 2018 financial disclosure report shows.
For the moment, few Republican strategists believe that Haley is inclined to run against Trump. But those who know her believe that there is a possibility that she might run for the presidential office in 2024, or even in 2020 should the president decide not to run again.